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The Fall of the Wall: 1980's in Eastern Europe and America
“Tear down this wall,” spoke the American President, Ronald Reagan, to his nation. A quote that represents a massive part of the 1980’s, and began a whole new era where after many years of communism and the Soviet Union ruling, Eastern Europe finally reunited with America and the rest of the world.
The 1980’s in Eastern Europe were definitely very important years. After more than 60 years, USSR finally dissolved; the Berlin Wall fell; and Europe got their independence. This brought some huge changes for countries and life was better than ever before.
Eastern Europe was under the communist rule until 1989. The communist party wanted everyone to be equal and own the same clothes, houses, and furniture. However, this caused their world to be very bland and according to Jarosckova, “grey...not fun”. On the other hand, countries like Yugoslavia were more open to the people’s choice, and the citizens had more accessibility to everything. For an Eastern European, Yugoslavia was “like a dream” (Jaroscakova).
Everyday life during the 1980’s in Europe mainly consisted of men and young adults working in factories or in an office, while women waited hours in lines to purchase food for their families (Giustino). There were also shortages of hygiene items, like toilet paper, medicine, feminine products and other necessities. “Sometimes people heard that there would be for example, potatoes in the shop and everyone would line up, and when it would be your turn the potatoes would most likely not even be there anymore” (Jaroscakova). Children didn’t see much of their parents because of their everyday routines. During the day, children were at school listening to their teachers talking about the communist propaganda and how brilliant it is. When they got home they helped their mothers with house cleaning. The TV was limited and mostly broadcasted programs promoting the communist party.
November 9th, 1989 was the day that brought a huge shock to the whole world. The Berlin Wall that has been standing in Berlin for almost 30 years, separating the two sides (USSR and America), and symbolizing the Cold War had been destroyed ("The Berlin Wall"). People started dancing on the wall, dismantling it and reuniting with the other side. But the biggest surprise to all was that Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union leader, “disavowed the use of force to rein in the protests” ("1989: The Year"). This of course was also partly thanks to the American president, Ronald Reagan, who protested against this many times.
This act was the thing that Eastern Europe just needed. The Soviet Union (or USSR) dissolved after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War ended, and many countries including Bulgaria, Romania Hungary, and (at that time) Czechoslovakia gained independence. This completely changed the lives of all Eastern Europeans and helped their cultural and economical growth.
America was a very different story during the 80’s. Those were the years of culture growth, music and TV. This is where the modern days and the world we live in now started. According to Feezell, “Attitudes were changing.” People were creating new ideas and forming the world that it is now. Coming with all these great changes for the Americans, also came some not so great events. There was the AIDS epidemic, the Iran-Iraq war, and of course terrorism. People were scared and they didn't know much about it (Feezell).
One of the things that Americans really enjoyed during the 80’s were the fundamental changes in their everyday life, including the TV. The television became a norm for most Americans by the 1980’s. There were already various channels that the people could watch. Children and the youth had Nickelodeon, where they could enjoy everyday broadcasts of classic sitcoms, while the more sports-minded Americans could enjoy 24 hours-a-day ESPN channel ("Life in the 1980's"). And of course there was CNN, for everyone to catch up on the news.
The Music Television also known as MTV broadcasted music videos of popular songs. MTV completely revolutionized the recording industry ("Life in the 1980's"). The favorite popstars, including Michael Jackson and Madonna, could finally create an image for himself as well as their music. Songs like, Call Me, Billie Jean, or Livin’ on a Prayer, succeeded mostly because of MTV. Their artists could make clips of their their music and could create a vivid image of what they mean by the song to the listener.
Movies were a very big thing for Americans as well. Some of the best movies ever made come from the 80’s, including E.T., Raging Bull, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and the Indiana Jones series. Also, some of the superheroes movies like Superman and Batman, that we have now started to get very popular in the 1980’s (Feezell). This was a decade that really helped the cultural growth for America and impacted the present world.
During the 1980’s in America, there was also the AIDS epidemic. The disease was spreading rapidly and people were scared of that. By 1987, there were almost 17,000 people dead because of AIDS (“The AIDS epidemic). People didn’t know much about the disease and didn’t know how to avoid it. Fortunately, as doctors started to find out more about the disease in the late 80’s the death were quickly decreasing.
To sum up, the 1980’s were extremely important years for both, Eastern Europe and America. The Berlin Wall fell, the USSR dissolved and the Eastern European countries gained their freedom. For the US, the 80’s were years of culture growth, while Eastern Europe lived under a limited communist rule. But after the agreement of the US president, Ronald Reagan, and the USSR leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, the world changed forever.